An Interview with Giorgia Caporuscio
Daughter of acclaimed pizzaiolo Roberto Caporuscio, Giorgia is one of the most famous female pizzaiola’s in the United States. Born and raised in Terracina, Italy, she learned the art of Neapolitan pizza making under the expertise of her father.
After spending eight months training with Roberto, Giorgia set off for Naples to complete a lengthy training internship by her father’s own mentor, Antonio Starita. Later, she made her way to the United States where she assisted in the opening of Scuola Vecchia, a Neapolitan pizzeria in Delray Beach, Florida. An accomplished pizzaiola, Giorgia was named the youngest of only two women to ever win first place in the “Classic Pizza” category of Naples’ largest and most prestigious pizza competition of over 500 competitors.
Giorgia has shared her pizza making skills at Kesté Pizza & Vino and Don Antonio since 2012. Currently, she is a partner and head maker of the family’s newest venture – Kesté Pizza & Vino located in Fulton where she and her father teach the art of Neapolitan pizza at the location’s pizza school.
When and how did you get into the pizza making business?
I first started working in the pizza industry at the age of 19, back in 2009. I had just graduated high school and had recently moved to New York City. In that same year, my father had just opened his first restaurant, Keste Bleecker.
Why pizza, opposed to other Italian culinary specialties? What is it that drives you?
Pizza is a simple but unique product, with high versatility. It is considered the first “street food” because it was made and sold in the streets. Pizza unifies. It brings people with different backgrounds together. You can be as creative as you want while making pizza, with the different styles and toppings. For me pizza is magic and love, all at once.
Life—and business—have ups and downs. Can you share one peak moment and one low moment that stands out to you, looking back at your life and career in the world of pizza?
One of the most challenging moments in my personal and professional life occurred 2 years ago, right before the opening of our Keste Fulton location. My fiancé at that time, who also was the manager of the company betrayed me both romantically and professionally. Nevertheless, that year, with all the difficulties, was unforgettable. At that young age, I was overseeing Don Antonio’s kitchen; all eyes were constantly on me. In that same year, I also won the world championship of Caputo! I became the one of the first, and youngest, female to win in my category.
What's next for you? What do you think is next for pizza, particularly in in L.A.?
I believe the next step is to spread information and educate people about Neapolitan pizza. Starting from young kids, all the way to adults. In order for people to be able to understand what type of pizza they like, they must know some characteristics of the pizza. In my future, I see myself living in a small place, where good pizza is served.
Where did you grow up in Italy? What’s your favorite dish from your hometown?
I come from a small town in between Naples and Rome, 5 minutes away from the beach. My first job ever was cleaning mussels, clams. For this reason, I fell in love with linguini and clams.
In your opinion, what is the trickiest stage of the pizza making process to get it just right?
The most difficult thing for me to teach others is the importance of making a ‘healthy’ final product. For instance, if prepared and cooked properly, with no added sugars, the carbohydrates in a pizza do not make you gain weight.
You were the youngest woman to be named Master Pizza Maker World Champion in 2013—you are a trailblazer! Have you noticed more women becoming professional pizza makers since then?
There are not many of us, but we are talented! In reality, women were the first pizza makers, but no one knows or wants to admit it. Over the years, I have met many young, talented Pizzaiolas and I would love to create an organization for female living and working in the world of pizza.
Besides Neapolitan style of pizza making, is there another pizza style in the United States that you like?
I love pizza Romana, even though it is not an American style.
What’s the youngest age and oldest age of a student you have ever taught? How was that like?
The oldest recreational student I taught (and celebrated his birthday as well!) was 80 years old. The youngest, which I just taught this past Sunday, was only 3 years old.
Can you share about how it was like proving yourself as a pizzaiola, when your father is an acclaimed pizza chef?
It is very challenging; people expect a lot from me. I always had to work twice as hard in order to prove to people what I am made of.
Thank you, Giorgia! Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
I wish people open their minds and better understand the concept of pizza, by seeing it from a kid’s perspective. Pizza has existed for thousands of years in its simple and pure way. I hope people don’t look down upon a Pizzaiola with their prejudices and superficiality, but I hope they come and visit me so I can show them what I can do!